Better the mothership than me: I don’t know how they found 100 good games to rank, but Bill C. takes a stab at it.
Stubbornness and Veteran Preference
Aaron Suttles at Tuscaloosa News/Tidesports reports that outgoing OC Brian Daboll ultimately left amid concerns of controlling personnel. Per the report, Daboll wanted to inject some life into the Tide’s putrid November offense by playing Tua Tagavailoa, but was ultimately rebuffed by Nick Saban. Saban apparently reserves unto himself all final decisions on player personnel.
These weren’t all that contentious, but they were frustrating for an offensive coordinator being asked to put his best offense on the field. Daboll wanted to play freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sooner than he has given the green light to do so. That doesn’t mean that Daboll didn’t like or want to play Jalen Hurts too. That’s not accurate at all. It’s just that Daboll saw what Tagovailoa was doing in practice against the best defense in the country and wanted to give him a chance once the offense started slumping in November.
Saban exercising this veto would be consonant with #sauces who told us in November that Tua and his family were getting very frustrated with the lack of opportunities in meaningful games where Jalen Hurts wasn’t playing well. The word “transfer” did arise. To be sure, there are still entire spring and fall camps worth of competition at the position, and Hurts has earned the right to compete for his job. But, it does seem as though the future is now. Hurts is a good college quarterback, an absolute great kid, a class act, and a consummate leader. But this team is built to compete against elite defenses. After 28 starts, Hurts has probably plateaued — and that S-shape performance falls below the quality needed to make a big-time throw against elite competition. That’s just the fact.
Perhaps more disconcerting is the veteran patronage that Saban has become increasingly attached to, particularly to offensive players, even when players are not performing. He’s always prized experience, and particularly at quarterback. But, this hasn’t just arisen with Hurts. For instance: It would be Gumping far too much to fail to note that 2016’s hero, Bo Scarbrough, was largely a hot mess this season — the first year he’s been completely healthy since 9th grade. We knew after Spring 2016 that Damien Harris was and would be the feature back for this team, yet, for whatever reason, BS9’s personnel grouping saw far too many inefficient reps in 2017, cutting into DH34’s efforts — and the offense suffered accordingly.
To the initial point, stubbornness and/or loyalty loses games. While Saban did not let that happen a second game in a row, and a second National Championship in a row, it does have an impact on coaching personnel. And, in this case, it chased away a promising offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, and it very easily could have cost the Tide its best quarterback.
With NSD 2.0 on the horizon, we’re gearing up for more recruiting coverage. AL.Com takes a look at some of the Tide’s remaining targets: It’s a thin class this year, and particularly for in-state talent. Though 2019, and to some extent 2020, are shaping up to have richer pickings. The weaker 2018 class probably more than anything speaks to the size of Alabama’s 2017 haul.
Saban speaks to the media about the outstanding contributions made by the outgoing Tide juniors, a class which includes Minkah Fitzpatrick and DaRon Payne. Both of those men are about to become very wealthy for a very long time — and both happen to be nominees for the Lombardi Award, given to a college football player, regardless of position, based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency.
I nominate the entire linebacking corps.
Take a swing at the O.G., Coach Burton Burns, and who wins that battle? Not you, Mekhi Brown.
Brown, who got into a sideline altercation with a Crimson Tide staff member during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, is no longer listed on Alabama’s online roster.
Brown, who had applied to Tennessee State before the Natty, was 86ed off the ‘Bama roster before the digital ink dried. This certainly opens the door to VanDarius Cowan and Ben Davis seeing more reps in the spring, both of whom had already gotten reps at OLB over Brown even during the Tide’s ‘Backerpocalypse. That probably tells you he wasn’t going to seriously contend for a start this season.
But, let’s not dwell on Mekhi’s bad stuff, or what could have been. Let’s celebrate instead the nigh’ sociopathic clothes line on Mecole Hardman.
CFB lost a legend, the voice of a generation with Verne Lundqvist, when Keith Jackson retired. He had slipped more than a few notches by the time he hung ‘em up. And, yes, he had largely become an OH NELLY-self parody of himself by the time he grabbed the mic in the 2005 Rose Bowl BCS Championship. But, there was a time when everything he touched was magical. Here are some reflections on an amazing career.
Hugh Freeze paid a visit to Nick Saban yesterday. He wants a job with Alabama. I have very many unchristian things to say about this man and his job prospects, as well as questionable paternity and/or the morality of his mother. This is a family site, so I’ll just leave it at that. You can imagine how most of us feel about this.
You want Round 4 of Clemson-Bama? I don’t think it happens, but I do think Clemson can make another playoff run. The entire front seven is returning as is most of the OL. The biggest questions will be replacing losses at WR and seeing if Kelly Bryant can make plays with his arm against against elite defenses. If not, at least Hunter Johnson is waiting in the wings. 2017 Clemson looked a lot like 2016 Alabama. The 2018 version may very well mirror it, with added shades of a looming QB controversy.
Let the speculation begin: Does/Should/When will Jalen Hurts transfer. This seriously pisses me off. He’s earned the right to compete for his job. And, if he doesn’t win it, he’s earned the right to move to another position, if he so chooses. And, should he do neither, then and only then do we wish him well as he heads to a place where he can play quarterback and thrive. For my part, I’m not making a speculation or suggestion of transfer until it’s happened and he’s lost his job on the two-deep. I’m not pushing him out of the door.
That doesn’t mean the jackals will be any kinder.